Students fear loss of rights

January 31, 1997

NEW universities could introduce binding arbitration for student appeals and complaints under a set of proposals from vice chancellors.

But the National Union of Students argues that the procedure would deny students access to the courts and that any appeals system should be national.

The proposal is contained in the interim report of the working group set up by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals and chaired by Clive Booth, to respond to the Nolan report on standards in public life.

Nolan found that higher education students should be able to appeal about disciplinary procedures and other matters to an independent body.

While the Visitor at old universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and certain others) served as a mechanism for independent review, new universities and those in Scotland lacked a similar legally binding procedure.

The CVCP working group saw arbitration, as a last resort, as the most efficient solution.

Professor Booth, vice chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, said: "Students and the universities will see a lot of advantage in a quick, efficient system of sorting a problem out, rather than having it drag on for years at enormous expense in the courts."

However, NUS opposed the move. Douglas Trainer, NUS president, said: "In no other sector are people expected to make the kind of investment they make in higher education without having the ability to take legal action if necessary."

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